Arts and Entertainment

The idea of The Great American Novel feels like an albatross around the neck of that country’s literature. Sooner or later every white middle-class male writer with any kind of reputation feels obliged to have a stab at it, usually with limited success. Eventually they think it’s time to pack away all the fun stuff like storytelling, energy and plot, and make some big state-of-the-nation address, telling people exactly how things stand in the good ol’ US of A. Interestingly, America’s women writers don’t tend to feel the obligation to grandstand so strongly, and their novels are usually all the better for that.

First gay couple wed in France amid tight security after controversial new legislation sparked violent protests

Vincent Austin and Bruno Boileau tie the knot in historic wedding in Montpellier

Why is it that Europe stigmatises modern Hungary?

There have been eruptions of racial hatred in France and the Netherlands without the same questioning of their fundamental democracy, says Hungary's Deputy Prime Minister

Peter Sunde

Career change: Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde to stand in European Parliament elections

A co-founder of Pirate Bay has decided to make a radical career change and stand in the 2014 European Parliament elections in Finland.

German neo-Nazi accused of ‘vile’ murders of nine immigrant shopkeepers and a policewoman

As the trial resumed of the sole surviving alleged member of a gang of neo-Nazi killers, Beate Zschäpe was accused of complicity in the murders of nine immigrant shopkeepers and a policewoman.

Tens of thousands of supporters of leftist parties marched through central Paris to express disappointment with President Francois Hollande’s first year in power

Thousands of leftist supporters march through Paris in protest over Hollande's first year

Tens of thousands of supporters of leftist parties marched through central Paris today to express disappointment with President Francois Hollande’s first year in power, criticizing the leader for reneging on his promises to rein in the world of finance and enact economic stimulus.

NF founder Jean-Marie Le Pen leads a Paris May Day rally

France takes to the streets as disaffected voters turn to far-right

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of France in traditional May Day rallies marked by calls for an end to President François Hollande’s austerity policies, which many blamed for record numbers of jobless.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault warns government against using English language

Ayrault asks his ministers to stop using English words in their work

Anti-gay marriage protesters in Paris on Tuesday night

Church versus Republic: Disturbing gay marriage protests stir old demons in France

World Focus: Success of the the demonstrations has been built on right-wing fury

Clashes between protesters and riot police in France after gay marriage law clears last hurdle

Relief in Parliament contrasts with ugly street battles as right-wing protest turns violent

A pro gay marriage militant is arrested by anti-riot police officers during a demonstration by supporters of the anti-gay marriage movement 'La Manif Pour Tous' (Demonstration for all!) in Nantes, western France. The final vote on France's landmark bill allowing gay marriage has been fast-tracked to next week and has proved hugely controversial in a country that is officially secular but predominantly Catholic (AFP)

French politicians scuffle over same-sex marriage legislation

Scuffles broke out in the French parliament in the early hours of as right-wing opposition to a gay marriage law becomes increasingly strident and ill-tempered.

Nicolas Maduro gives a victory speech in Caracas early yesterday

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles refuses to throw in towel after narrow presidential poll defeat to Nicolas Maduro

Opposition leader calls for recount ‘of every vote’ in Venezuela’s disputed presidential election

A coffin is carried up the steps of St Paul's Cathedral during a rehearsal for the funeral of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher funeral: Demonstrators 'given go-ahead' to turn backs on coffin during procession as guerilla protest plans gather pace

Nearly 300 protesters sign-up to turn backs on former Prime Minister's coffin during procession

Hugo Chavez's successor Nicolas Maduro wins Venezuela election in highly contested result

Voters narrowly elected Hugo Chavez's hand-picked successor as president today, in a razor-close election.

Donald MacInnes: I’m possibly better at one-to-one stuff

Tales from the Water Cooler

Gallery: How the front pages covered Margaret Thatcher's death

The front pages of all UK national newspapers this morning led with yesterday's news of the death of former prime minister Baroness Thatcher.

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
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A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried